I don’t know what happened this year, it seems that around June I started to fall a bit behind on new music. But it doesn’t seem like I’m missing much from everyone’s top 50 lists that are all over the web. First, put that shit into a one page list, or at least ten per page. No one has time to click through everything and the code so rarely works on mobile devices. Second, YEEZUS, really?
I think I have mentioned each of these records on the blog at some point, except the last one, so they were often on my mind. None of these bands are only men–that was a conscious decision I made earlier this year to listen primarily to music that includes women. This list is in no order because all of these records are great and you should listen to them immediately.
Laura Stevenson, The Wheel
I am not sure why this record hasn’t fully caught on like Death Cab for Cutie or The Arcade Fire or someone equally huge. Maybe it’s because Laura doesn’t believe in the moon landing. Whatever the case, Wheel is a folk rock masterpiece.
Joanna Gruesome, Weird Sister
Sometimes you just want to bop around in your car and sing along to twee UK pop music that is also kinda angry. I am not always good at buying things on a whim (my collection is dotted with things I bought without thinking but can’t get rid of) but Weird Sister is fun and jubilant.
Mikal Cronin, MCII
MCII is the best record released this year for scoring both pancake breakfasts and late night dance parties. Bonus: really awesome lady drummer.
San Fermin, s/t
When I listen to this record I want it to be so loud that it reverberates in my head. Definitely my best Hopscotch discovery.
Bleached, Ride Your Heart
Two sisters in LA, formerly of Mika Miko, started a catchy punk band and quietly released one of the most underrated LPs of the year. I played Ride Your Heart pretty often, thanks to its wide crowd appeal and sing-a-long hooks.
Radiator Hospital, Something Wild
I don’t think there is another song I loved more this year than “Ghost Story,” a super catch 2.5 minute pop classic. Ever since Cloud Nothings went all legit rock band on me, I’ve been looking for another lo-fi act that writes songs I can’t stop singing. Something Wild has spunk and personality.
Caitlin Rose, The Stand-In
The Stand-In is Rose’s version of Gold if Ryan Adams’ production wasn’t so slick and annoying. Like Wheel, I don’t know if this album has broken through the way it should: while she did have a song in Nashville, I think her music should be played everywhere.
Kacey Musgraves, Same Trailer, Different Park
Wouldn’t it be amazing if all country music on the radio was like Kacey Musgraves? Her lyrics are different and unexpected–“Blowing Smoke” is not just about smoking but about wanting a better life and not being able to quit your crappy waitress job and leave town.
Eleanor Friedberger, Personal Record
I never thought the woman from The Fiery Furnaces (one of my favorite bands ever) could write a sweet story song about female friendship like “When I Know.”
I have been texting with my friend Ashley about how genius this “visual album” is since it came out late last week. She compares her experience with it to that of Exile in Guyville. I like this grown up, sexual Bey so much that her poor sister’s Saint Heron comp was knocked out of my top ten. Maybe next year, Solange! [I want to write more, especially about the rarity of a pop record so bold and experimental by a female artist in her prime, but everyone has written those pieces already, so…]
There were a lot of other records I loved this year too: William Tyler, Laura Marling, Low, Raum, Blood Orange, and Disclosure, among others. There’s so much I want to spend more time with as well, including the wonderful Run the Jewels LP, a collaboration between El-P and Killer Mike.
Songs from each of these records (except Kacey Mugraves and Bey), plus so much more, can be found on my end of year Spotify playlist, which I will probably add to for the next few weeks or so as I read more lists of music I have missed.
Amazing Bey-Drake gif from here.